Anthony and Cynthia started their business to share a taste of home with their new community in Orlando. They converted their West African restaurant into a food truck with the help of a loan from Opportunity Fund. Now with two food trucks in Orlando, African Soul Market is thriving as they share more of the food they love.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.

Anthony and Cynthia started their business to share a taste of home with their new community in Orlando. They converted their West African restaurant into a food truck with the help of a loan from Opportunity Fund. Now with two food trucks in Orlando, African Soul Market is thriving as they share more of the food they love.

The Taste of Success

Anthony and Cynthia Imana started African Soul Market in 2013 in Orlando. After they moved to Florida from the Bronx in New York, they wanted to start an African market to share Anthony’s taste of home.

“We moved to Florida for a better life for the kids and when we got here, we realized there weren’t many African options for my husband to eat,” Cynthia said. “I thought that he can’t be the only one who wants that food, so let’s do something about it.”

They started out in a brick and mortar location selling dry African goods. They changed their focus to prepared food on the weekends, which quickly sold out each day. “Then we started selling our prepared foods every day,” Cynthia said.

Their food was a huge hit, but the increasing rent for their restaurant space made it hard to stay in business. After two years as a restaurant, African Soul Market started over as a food truck.

African Soul Market

Anthony and Cynthia built their business together and watch it grow every day (photo courtesy of Jack Edwards)

They needed a small business loan to help finance their truck, so they reached out to One Fat Frog, a food truck manufacturer located in their hometown of Orlando. As one of Opportunity Fund’s key mobile food vehicle manufacturer and dealer partners, One Fat Frog connected the Imanas to us.

“One Fat Frog told us that Opportunity Fund does food truck loans,” Cynthia said. “We didn’t have the total amount to pay for the truck. We were relieved to know that funding was available.”

Starting Off Right

Opportunity Fund loan consultant Gerardo Campos helped close a $30,000 loan for the Imanas to complete the purchase of their truck. They were set up for immediate success.

“We’re the first food truck in the state of Florida serving authentic West African cuisine,” Cynthia said. They set up their truck in Pointe Orlando, a prime spot with a constant flow of foot traffic. Business grew so quickly that they returned to One Fat Frog for a second truck in March 2018. Gerardo was there again to help secure the $71,000 loan for the new truck.

Gerardo’s quick and personalized service helped the Imanas get their second truck going without missing a beat. “Gerardo was amazing,” Cynthia said. “He was straightforward and told us what we needed to provide for the loan. Everyone we worked with at Opportunity Fund is great and professional.”

The second African Soul Market truck travels to events around the Orlando area, as well as private catering engagements. Cynthia and Anthony go to work every day with their family members and cook their favorites while providing for the family’s needs.

We’re proud to watch African Soul Market expand and we’re thankful for our mobile food vehicle partners like One Fat Frog for helping us reach new clients outside of California!

We hope this story has inspired you, too.  At Opportunity Fund, we offer easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans to help small business owners succeed.  Visit our home page to find out more.


Loans are subject to credit review. Additional documentation may be required for credit approval. We are an Equal Opportunity Lender. Loans will be made or arranged pursuant to California Department of Corporations Finance Lenders License #6050609.

Opportunity Fund is tackling economic inequality so that hard work and perseverance means a shot at getting ahead, not just struggling to get by. Our programs are supported by a community of donors and investors whose contributions help to fund small businesses, support college students, and build stronger families and vibrant neighborhoods. Since 1994, the team has deployed $600 million and helped 20,000 families earn, save and invest in their own futures. Opportunity Fund has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, for our commitment to accountability and transparency.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Kei found almost instant success when she launched her scones at Los Angeles farmers markets. As she grew Sugarbird Sweets, she needed working capital to keep up with demand. Two small business loans with Opportunity Fund have helped Kei keep Sugarbird on track for scalable growth.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.

Kei found almost instant success when she launched her scones at Los Angeles farmers markets. As she grew Sugarbird Sweets, she needed working capital to keep up with demand. Two small business loans with Opportunity Fund have helped Kei keep Sugarbird on track for scalable growth.

Recipe for Success

Kei Okumura started her small business selling batch-blended organic teas at Los Angeles area farmers markets. Sugarbird Sweets grew when she decided to add fresh baked scones to her offerings at the farmers markets. Her brand grew organically into wholesale to cafes and restaurants across Los Angeles.

“I studied pastry making in Paris at culinary school two years prior,” Kei said. “I applied my pastry background to figure out what would go well with tea. Scones were the perfect combination.”

Kei had to create something new and fresh to make her products stand out. She had a presence at some of the biggest and most competitive farmers markets for vendors, which allowed her to establish her new business.

Her built in customer base helped get the word out about Sugarbird’s new scone offerings. The initial two flavors, Mixed Berry and Dark Chocolate Chip, grew into over 18 different unique herb, tea, and seasonal fruit inspired combinations.

“People came every week to get the scones,” Kei said. “I started out with two dozen, then twenty dozen, then thirty dozen. We’d always sell out.”

Kei’s signature creation, the white chocolate matcha scone, helped propel her business to even bigger success. The increased demand put a strain on Sugarbird’s production capacity and resources.

“For five years, I was renting kitchen spaces to keep up with the farmers market and our wholesale clients,” Kei said. “As the markets and wholesale accounts got busier, I would get inquiries for catering tea parties. That became a huge part of Sugarbird and helped us grow organically.”

Kei was able to find her own space for Sugarbird in downtown Los Angeles, thanks to the immense growth of her business. Almost every step up to bigger sales meant a roadblock for Kei to overcome. The next phase came from selling her products wholesale to vendors like Mendocino Farms and opening an Amazon.com storefront.

“I needed additional funds to keep my business going,” Kei said. “It was difficult trying to manage all the  30 plus accounts. I was running into cash flow problems.”

Rising to the Challenge

Kei reached out to Opportunity Fund. She connected with loan consultant Robert Zapata, who helped close a $10,000 loan for Sugarbird Sweets in April 2016. The working capital helped Kei finance the necessary production increase and provided her with the right funding solution for her small business.

“I tried other lenders and banks,” she said. “I had a hard time with the SBA. It took over eight months.”

Robert took the time to understand Kei’s business and work with what she needed to grow. Kei applied for a second loan in May 2017 for $20,000 to help her continue Sugarbird’s scalable growth.

Sugarbird Sweets - Scones

Sugarbird’s freshly made scones are a huge hit around Los Angeles (photo courtesy of Michael Microulis)


“We’re looking for new ventures in the retail market,” Kei said. “We’re launching a product of frozen, ready to bake scones for the supermarket in 2019. I’m looking to grow marketing, budget, and production for that.”

We’re happy to support hardworking moms like Kei and we’re proud to watch her grow from a great idea at the farmer’s market to an up-and-coming retail brand.


We hope this story has inspired you, too.  At Opportunity Fund, we offer easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans to help small business owners succeed.  Visit our home page to find out more.

Opportunity Fund is tackling economic inequality so that hard work and perseverance means a shot at getting ahead, not just struggling to get by. Our programs are supported by a community of donors and investors whose contributions help to fund small businesses, support college students, and build stronger families and vibrant neighborhoods. Since 1994, the team has deployed $600 million and helped 20,000 families earn, save and invest in their own futures. Opportunity Fund has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, for our commitment to accountability and transparency.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Jill always dreamed of owning her own business and working for herself. When the right idea came along, she made her dreams possible through hard work. She grew her mobile pet grooming business with the help of small business loans from Opportunity Fund. Thanks to us, you can find Foxy Roxy’s Mobile Pet Salon in your area.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.

Jill always dreamed of owning her own business and working for herself. When the right idea came along, she made her dreams possible through hard work. She grew her mobile pet grooming business with the help of small business loans from Opportunity Fund. Thanks to us, you can find Foxy Roxy’s Mobile Pet Salon in your area.

Taking a Chance on a Great Idea

Jill Hailey started Foxy Roxy’s Mobile Pet Salon in Modesto in July 2014. While raising her family, Jill had dreams to start her own business with her husband Jonathan. The timing and ideas finally came together when they saw a mobile pet groomer on their street one day.

“The wait for an appointment was two months,” Jill said. “Jonathan saw the need for more mobile pet groomers in our area and said we should do that. But we knew nothing about grooming.”

Jonathan built the first van in their driveway, and Foxy Roxy was born. “We hired a groomer who taught us the grooming side of the business and Jonathan and I handled the rest,” Jill said. “From there, the business took off.

The company grew quickly from the single van operation to 10 employees and seven mobile grooming units today around Modesto, Pleasanton, and Santa Clara. Jill hires a groomer to operate each unit, which has a complete setup for dog grooming: baths, nail trim, fur drying, and space for the groomer’s tools and supplies. The runaway success was initially difficult to keep up with, even for the upstart Haileys.

Bath time

Dogs get deluxe treatment when Foxy Roxy comes to town (photo courtesy of Heimo Schmidt)

“Within three months of our launch our appointment schedule was booked out over a month,” Jill said. “We had to turn down customers. As we’ve added vans over these four years, we fill up our schedules until we’re booked out a month. When our customers say they can’t wait, we know it’s time to grow.”

When Hard Work Pays Off

Jill turned to a mobile dog grooming vehicle manufacturer to keep up with the demand for Foxy Roxy. She had fewer opportunities for financing due to a bankruptcy from her divorce. Then she got a tip about Opportunity Fund.

“It sounded too good to be true,” she said. Jill connected with our team, who helped her right away through understanding her situation and finding the right business financing solution for her. “I told them, I was the kind the bank won’t help. But they told me I was the kind they’re here to help.”

J & J

Jill and Jonathan share their business dreams as owners of Foxy Roxy’s Mobile Pet Grooming Salon (photo courtesy of Heimo Schmidt)

Our loan consultant Madieu Shyllon helped close a $10,000 loan for Foxy Roxy’s Mobile Pet Salon in August 2015. Since then, Jill has returned to us for four more loans to help purchase mobile grooming units:

  • $47,000 in November 2015
  • $79,000 in May 2016
  • $77,000 in June 2017
  • $82,000 in November 2017

Now with five loans and a thriving business that allowed Jonathan to quit his sales manager job to focus on their dream, Jill is looking to the future of Foxy Roxy. They opened their first brick and mortar location in San Diego this May, and they’re spreading their reach further throughout California.

We’re proud to watch Foxy Roxy grow and we’re honored to support the dreams of hardworking entrepreneurs like Jill.

We hope this story has inspired you, too.  At Opportunity Fund, we offer easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans to help small business owners succeed.  Visit our home page to find out more.


Loans are subject to credit review. Additional documentation may be required for credit approval. We are an Equal Opportunity Lender. Loans will be made or arranged pursuant to California Department of Corporations Finance Lenders License #6050609.

Opportunity Fund is tackling economic inequality so that hard work and perseverance means a shot at getting ahead, not just struggling to get by. Our programs are supported by a community of donors and investors whose contributions help to fund small businesses, support college students, and build stronger families and vibrant neighborhoods. Since 1994, the team has deployed $600 million and helped 20,000 families earn, save and invest in their own futures. Opportunity Fund has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, for our commitment to accountability and transparency.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Alejandra made her dream to open her own cosmetics store come true through hard work. When she needed a small business loan to grow, Opportunity Fund was there to help. Thanks to our small business loans, Ale’s Bissu Makeup Store now has two locations in Corona.

 

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.

Alejandra made her dream to open her own cosmetics store come true through hard work. When she needed a small business loan to grow, Opportunity Fund was there to help. Thanks to our small business loans, Ale’s Bissu Makeup Store now has two locations in Corona.

A Beautiful Dream of Business Ownership

Alejandra Dominguez started Ale’s Bissu Makeup Store in Corona in 2016. She made her dream to start her own cosmetics store happen, armed with a Wells Fargo credit card with a limit of $1,500. She worked with her husband Jorge to establish the business, which was a major change for her and her family.

“I used to be a normal housewife who was completely dependent on my husband’s income to buy everything for the house,” Alejandra said. “Before I started this business, I did not help financially in any way.”

Alejandra’s goals of business ownership remained strong. “I wanted to be independent and succeed in life,” she said.

As gifted makeup artist, Alejandra offers quality cosmetics and tools plus excellent customer service at Ale’s Bissu Makeup Store. “We sell high quality products at reasonable prices,” she said. “Our motto is to never have high prices.”

Ale's Bissu Makeup Store - Alejandra

Alejandra helps her customers find the right makeup (photo courtesy of Michael Microulis)


She also offers free makeup tutorial workshops for clients in her Corona neighborhood. “We noticed some clients may not be able to afford classes,” she said. “Our clients are our priority.  I’m excited to help people in my community.”

With a knack for beauty and a passion for helping people, Alejandra was set up for success. However, she ran into a snag when she needed a working capital loan to help grow her business.

Building a Strong Financial Foundation

She reached out to AMPAC Tri State CDC in the Inland Empire. As a key community partner of Opportunity Fund, they connected Alejandra to our loan consultant Adela Escobar. Adela helped close a $10,001 loan for Ale’s Bissu Makeup Store in November 2017, with a reduced rate thanks to our partnership with the Tory Burch Foundation to support women entrepreneurs. The loan helped Alejandra purchase more products for her store and later helped her expand the business.

Ale's Bissu Makeup Store - Alejandra and Adela

Alejandra worked with her loan consultant Adela to get the financing her business needed (photo courtesy of Michael Microulis)

“We decided to expand and rented a kiosk at Tyler Mall,” Alejandra said. Together with her staff–her husband Jorge and two other employees–Alejandra is operating two locations in Corona and keeping up with her pledge to help the community with better access to cosmetics and tutorials.

“I had been denied for credit with banks and credit unions, but Opportunity Fund believed in me and in my dreams,” she said.

Alejandra’s goals are growing alongside her business. “I want to provide employment to my community,” she said. “I came to this country from Mexico to stand out and be a successful person. My business has helped me understand my passion of being a businesswoman and helping people. Opportunity Fund will be part of my team for success.”

We’re proud to support entrepreneurs with big dreams like Alejandra and we’re proud to see her business and goals grow.

We hope this story has inspired you, too.  At Opportunity Fund, we offer easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans to help small business owners succeed.  Visit our home page to find out more.


Opportunity Fund is tackling economic inequality so that hard work and perseverance means a shot at getting ahead, not just struggling to get by. Our programs are supported by a community of donors and investors whose contributions help to fund small businesses, support college students, and build stronger families and vibrant neighborhoods. Since 1994, the team has deployed $600 million and helped 20,000 families earn, save and invest in their own futures. Opportunity Fund has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, for our commitment to accountability and transparency.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Marcia built a successful boutique in Los Angeles on a long career in fashion. When she needed a small business loan, she got a high interest rate that almost crippled her business. Opportunity Fund was there to help her refinance the loan and set her on the path to financial success.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.

Marcia built a successful boutique in Los Angeles on a long career in fashion. When she needed a small business loan, she got a high interest rate that almost crippled her business. Opportunity Fund was there to help her refinance the loan and set her on the path to financial success.

Starting a Career from Scratch

Marcia Charles has worked in fashion all her life. She started out working at department store warehouses in the Bronx at age 15. Over the next 35 years she grew into a self-taught fashion designer and merchandiser and self-made small business owner.

Marcia opened Pinky Rose Boutique in 2003 in Los Angeles. She works with wholesalers to stock up her boutique with the latest styles in clothes and accessories, plus she showcases her own designs.

“I created the Nadda dress,” Marcia said. “it’s not a dress but like a jumpsuit, comfortable with built in pockets that work as a belt and can be worn five different ways.”

Marcia’s leadership extends beyond her innovative fashions. She helped establish the business neighborhood around her boutique. “I work with people in the community to improve the neighborhood for small businesses,” she said. “I was the first boutique on the street. Along with two other restaurants, we were the first businesses here. When I started, there was nothing on the street.”

Now in her 60s, Marcia is using her experience and wisdom to keep her business going in a tough industry while building up her own fashion brand. She needed a small business loan to help with working capital. She ran into problems with her first lender Kabbage, a company that charged her a 45% interest rate that killed her business cash flow.

She needed a trustworthy and transparent lender who understood her business. Opportunity Fund was there to answer her call.

Finding the Right Fit for Financing

Marcia came to us through our community partner BusinessSource LA. After connecting with Marcia, our loan consultant Robert Zapata helped her understand what we do for small business owners and how we’re different from high interest alternative lenders. It helped her make the choice to work with us for her small business financing needs. Robert was able to close a loan for $7,500 in October 2015.

“It helped me pay off the Kabbage loan and get a lower interest rate,” she said. “That helped me stay in business, because the Kabbage loan would have probably put me out of business.”

Marcia - Pinky Rose Boutique

Our small business loans are helping Marcia keep the latest fashions in stock (photo courtesy of Michael Microulis)


She came back to us for three more loans to help with her wholesale expenses:

  • $15,000 in September 2016
  • $18,000 in February 2017
  • $25,000 in January 2018

“It’s helped me grow over the past three years,” she said. “Without Opportunity Fund I wouldn’t have the money to do it.”

Marcia’s vision for the future of Pinky Rose Boutique includes expanding to a second location that houses only her original designs and establish her comfort couture brand.

We’re excited to see the next designs coming from Pinky Rose and we’re honored to support hard working entrepreneurs like Marcia.


We hope this story has inspired you, too.  At Opportunity Fund, we offer easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans to help small business owners succeed.  Visit our home page to find out more.

Opportunity Fund is tackling economic inequality so that hard work and perseverance means a shot at getting ahead, not just struggling to get by. Our programs are supported by a community of donors and investors whose contributions help to fund small businesses, support college students, and build stronger families and vibrant neighborhoods. Since 1994, the team has deployed $600 million and helped 20,000 families earn, save and invest in their own futures. Opportunity Fund has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, for our commitment to accountability and transparency.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Bust a Nut is a snacking hotspot at one of the largest swap meets in Southern California. When owner Hector Sandoval needed to purchase a trailer for his roasted nuts business, Opportunity Fund was there to help with our fast, easy-to-get, and affordable small business loans.

 

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.

Bust a Nut is a snacking hotspot at one of the largest swap meets in Southern California. When owner Hector Sandoval needed to purchase a trailer for his roasted nuts business, Opportunity Fund was there to help with our fast, easy-to-get, and affordable small business loans.

A Breakout Success

Hector Sandoval started Bust a Nut, his roasted peanut cart, in 2012. Hector takes his cart to the Vineland Swap Meet in La Puente, Calif. six days a week to sell fresh roasted peanuts. The well known swap meet has been a major key in Bust a Nut’s success, with large crowds every weekend and entertainment like live music every day.

Hector took his chance to become an entrepreneur following the latest recession. After working in road construction for several years with opportunities dwindling, he chose to go into business for himself.

“I was always interested in selling,” Hector said. “I picked this business because not many people do what I do in mobile food.”

Hector buys raw peanuts in bulk and roasts them on the spot at his nut cart. The fresh, hot peanuts are a huge hit at every stop he makes: the swap meet and church events, where he donates all profits to his church.

Bust a Nut was a success from the start, but Hector still had some roadblocks to growth. “When I started roasting peanuts I had a lot of problems with the health department,” he said. “They required me to build a trailer and put my machines inside the trailer. It was a huge project.”

Primed for Growth

The new direction for Bust a Nut was difficult for Hector to handle alone. “It was too much for me to afford all at once,” he said.

Working with Kareem Carts helped Hector what he needed: a new trailer for his business and a financing connection. Our mobile food vehicle partner Kareem Carts connected Hector to Opportunity Fund loan consultant Salvador Lopez, who helped close a $26,000 loan for the trailer purchase in November 2013.

Hector - Bust a Nut

Our small business loans helped Hector upgrade his roasted nut business (photo courtesy of Michael Microulis)

“Salvador made everything easy,” Hector said. “There was never any pressure to get into a loan. Salvador explained everything and the terms were reasonable.”

With the new trailer, Bust a Nut can go anywhere and do anything. Hector is planning to purchase a second trailer to travel to special events around Los Angeles and hire help to run the new trailer.

“I’m nothing but grateful for Opportunity Fund for giving me that kick start I needed,” he said.

We’re happy to support entrepreneurs like Hector and we’re proud to watch his business grow.


We hope this story has inspired you, too.  At Opportunity Fund, we offer easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans to help small business owners succeed.  Visit our home page to find out more.

Opportunity Fund is tackling economic inequality so that hard work and perseverance means a shot at getting ahead, not just struggling to get by. Our programs are supported by a community of donors and investors whose contributions help to fund small businesses, support college students, and build stronger families and vibrant neighborhoods. Since 1994, the team has deployed $600 million and helped 20,000 families earn, save and invest in their own futures. Opportunity Fund has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, for our commitment to accountability and transparency.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Vladimir and Jim started their business partnership when they took over Alan Desk Business Interiors in Los Angeles. Despite working together at Alan Desk for years, they had trouble finding business loans as new business owners. Opportunity Fund’s partnership with Lending Club helped them get their showroom ready for new customers.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.

Vladimir and Jim started their business partnership when they took over Alan Desk Business Interiors in Los Angeles. Despite working together at Alan Desk for years, they had trouble finding business loans as new business owners. Opportunity Fund’s partnership with Lending Club helped them get their showroom ready for new customers.

A New Business Partnership

Vladimir Alvarez and Jim Meltzer worked together for years at Alan Desk Business Interiors in Los Angeles. They made their dream of business ownership a reality when they took over the formerly family owned business in 2016.

Alan Desk Business Interiors provides design for commercial office spaces by supplying office furniture and designs to their clients. Vladimir and Jim serve as the only employees at Alan Desk, and their connections within the Los Angeles community have landed them several high profile clients like Magic Johnson and the Jimmy Kimmel Show.

Alan Desk - Jim

Jim is the creative and design brain of Alan Desk (photo courtesy of Michael Microulis)


The dynamic duo covers all the functions of the business. Vladimir handles accounting, marketing, and purchasing while Jim is the creative brain and buyer behind the interior design.

Late in 2017, Alan Desk opened a new 1,700 square foot showroom in Los Angeles. Vladimir and Jim needed a small business loan to help them renovate and stock the showroom. Although Alan Desk has been around since 1941, Vladimir and Jim’s new partnership meant starting over.

“We tried the major banks but because we are considered a new business with only a two year history, we were not approved,” Vladimir said. They needed a small business lending solution that recognized their experience and potential.

New Paths to Success

Vladimir and Jim came to Opportunity Fund through our partnership with Lending Club. Our business loan advisor Rexie Dumagan helped close a $40,000 loan in October 2017 to help Alan Desk purchase the floor samples they needed to best serve their clients.

“We’re in a high profile design area here in Los Angeles,” Jim said. “We’re working to get this showroom established so we can start growing our business.”

Alan Desk - Vladimir

Vladimir works on business operations at Alan Desk (photo courtesy of Michael Microulis)

Vladimir and Jim were determined to get the funds they needed to establish their new business together. Opportunity Fund was the right fit based on our customer service and fair pricing.

“Rexie was very helpful,” Vladimir said. “He provided the terms and helped us through the entire process. I talked with other lenders but their interest rates were through the roof.”

Vladimir and Jim are looking to the future of Alan Desk as co-owners. “The next step is growing this space,” Jim said. “We want to work with Opportunity Fund again when we start to expand.”

We’re proud to support hard working entrepreneurs who are determined to make their dreams come true like Vladimir and Jim.

We hope this story has inspired you, too.  At Opportunity Fund, we offer easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans to help small business owners succeed.  Visit our home page to find out more.


Opportunity Fund is tackling economic inequality so that hard work and perseverance means a shot at getting ahead, not just struggling to get by. Our programs are supported by a community of donors and investors whose contributions help to fund small businesses, support college students, and build stronger families and vibrant neighborhoods. Since 1994, the team has deployed $600 million and helped 20,000 families earn, save and invest in their own futures. Opportunity Fund has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, for our commitment to accountability and transparency.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

REJ Electric is a green energy leader in the Bay Area. When CEO Steven Phillips needed working capital to help complete key projects, Opportunity Fund was there with easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too. REJ Electric is a green energy leader in the Bay Area. When CEO Steven Phillips needed working capital to help complete key projects, Opportunity Fund was there with easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans.

A Successful Transformation

REJ Electric is a successful energy company based in Alameda. After going through some changes in leadership and service sector, the company is doing better than ever. CEO Steven Phillips spearheaded the most ambitious changes for REJ and built his company into a Bay Area green energy leader.

Steven joined REJ in 2007 and led an initiative to target the commercial energy market, which meant moving away from the company’s previous core of residential customers to focus on cities, municipalities, and corporations. Two years later, Steven took over the company and invested in electric vehicle charging stations. By 2016, the company was solely focused on green energy services for commercial customers.

Some of REJ’s clients include the City of Oakland, Alameda County, and John Muir Health. In addition to providing excellent service for their clients, REJ is a community leader. Steven focuses on hiring local people, including many youths looking for job training or others who wish to develop their administrative skills.

REJ Electric needed small business working capital to help provide excellent service to their clients and continue to pay competitive salaries to employees. Steven credits REJ’s success on his staff, so retention is key.

“We were looking to manage our projects, expand our staff, and buy more assets for the business,” Steven said.

A Bright Funding Idea

Steven has been on the cutting edge of his industry since he began at REJ, so his business required a different kind of funding resource. Traditional sources like banks didn’t work out, so Steven turned to Opportunity Fund.

Our business development officer Alex Esquivias closed a $20,000 loan for REJ in December 2016. The working capital helped REJ complete three projects and pay vendors.  

“We were able to finish the projects faster with the loan,” he said. “We’d been looking for a partner in this industry. Working with Opportunity Fund relieved a lot of stress for us.”

Steven Phillips - REJ Electric

Steven helps cities, counties, and corporations go green. We’re helping his company keep up with contracts. (Photo courtesy of Heimo Schmidt)

Steven was so impressed with the speed and ease of our loan process that he applied for a second loan in October 2017 for $50,000. The new wave of working capital is helping support some major projects for REJ. “We’re aiming for a quarter million dollars worth of projects by the end of 2017,” Steven said. “Then start off the new year at 25% above what we did last year. Then continue to grow from there.”

The financial support means a lot to REJ. Steven is also thankful for us standing by him as his company grows in a fledgling industry. “We’re still new to this kind of technology,” he said. “Everyone here knows how important is it to have a company like Opportunity Fund supporting us.”

We’re proud to work with hardworking entrepreneurs like Steven who are making a difference in his community and for the environment.

We hope this story has inspired you, too.  At Opportunity Fund, we offer easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans to help small business owners succeed.  Visit our home page to find out more.


Opportunity Fund is tackling economic inequality so that hard work and perseverance means a shot at getting ahead, not just struggling to get by. Our programs are supported by a community of donors and investors whose contributions help to fund small businesses, support college students, and build stronger families and vibrant neighborhoods. Since 1994, the team has deployed $600 million and helped 20,000 families earn, save and invest in their own futures. Opportunity Fund has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, for our commitment to accountability and transparency.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Corey founded CORE Kitchen in downtown Oakland as a mission-oriented plant-based kitchen. When he needed to fulfill a new product order for retail partner Whole Foods, Opportunity Fund was there to help with a small business loan. Thanks to the working capital, the latest products from CORE Foods are coming to a grocery store near you.

Our customers inspire us every day, and we want to regularly share those stories to inspire you, too.  Corey founded CORE Kitchen in downtown Oakland as a mission-oriented plant-based kitchen. When he needed to fulfill a new product order for retail partner Whole Foods, Opportunity Fund was there to help with a small business loan. Thanks to the working capital, the latest products from CORE Foods are coming to a grocery store near you.

Growth Based on Inclusion

Corey Rennell started CORE Kitchen in 2010 in downtown Oakland as a response to some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s most pressing needs: access to healthy food and employment opportunities. A first-time entrepreneur, Corey used his history as a vegetarian and former employee at Whole Foods to build his dream business.

“We believe that every person has a right to healthy food,” he said.

CORE Kitchen serves vegan, organic, plant-based breakfast, lunch, and smoothies. Their positive impact goes beyond disruptive food systems. Corey hires formerly incarcerated people to work at CORE Kitchen.

“Oakland can be a very divided place on racial and economic lines,” Corey said. “We believe that we can rebuild our infrastructure by providing jobs for people in these communities.”

In 2015, CORE Kitchen expanded to CORE Foods, a line of perishable food bars sold in retail stores. A year later, they added oatmeal and granola. These products are available locally at stores like the Berkeley Bowl and Rainbow Grocery. CORE Foods went nationwide thanks to Corey’s partnership with Whole Foods’ local producer loan program.

“Whole Foods offered us a loan because they wanted to help us bring our items to their grocery store,” he said.

New Products, New Success

In 2017, the CORE Foods brand added a new product: a line of herbal, functional, sparkling health beverages sweetened with fruit juice. CORE Foods was thriving but lacked the capital necessary to fulfill the order of 100,000 bottles for the new contract with Whole Foods.

Our community partner Working Solutions connected Corey to us. “With the new contract, we’d outgrown Working Solutions’ capability to fund us,” he said. “Our bank wasn’t connecting to our needs.”

Opportunity Fund business development officer Shanna McClearn worked with Corey to close a $150,000 loan in June 2017. The speed and ease of the funding process initially caught Corey off guard. “We had approval within a week,” he said. “I was expecting two to four weeks. We had the money available before we were ready to use it.”

Thanks to the loan, CORE Foods Tonics are now available at Whole Foods locations in Los Angeles and Chicago. As CORE Foods expands to compete in new product categories against food and beverage giants like Kraft and Coca-Cola, they may outgrow Opportunity Fund one day.

Corey Rennell - CORE Foods

Corey and his staff are changing the face of healthy eating in Oakland (photo courtesy of Heimo Schmidt)

“Opportunity Fund has helped us invest in things we’ve needed for a long time and to position ourselves to run the business we know we can run,” he said. “That makes us much more attractive to a non-profit partner that we’ll ultimately partner with.”

Get to know more about Corey and the CORE Foods staff and mission in this video:

We’re proud to work with visionary entrepreneurs like Corey who create change in their communities, and we’re honored to be one of CORE Foods’ non-profit growth partners.

We hope this story has inspired you, too.  At Opportunity Fund, we offer easy-to-get, fast, and affordable small business loans to help small business owners succeed.  Visit our home page to find out more.


Opportunity Fund is tackling economic inequality so that hard work and perseverance means a shot at getting ahead, not just struggling to get by. Our programs are supported by a community of donors and investors whose contributions help to fund small businesses, support college students, and build stronger families and vibrant neighborhoods. Since 1994, the team has deployed $600 million and helped 20,000 families earn, save and invest in their own futures. Opportunity Fund has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator,for our commitment to accountability and transparency.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Opportunity Fund. Working Capital for Working People. opportunityfund.org